Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has had to back down from statements he made on U.S. television on Tuesday that made him seem to empathize with Iran’s alleged quest for nuclear weapons.
On PBS’s Charlie Rose show, when asked if he would “want a nuclear weapon” were he a member of Iran’s government, Barak said “Probably, probably. I don’t delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel. They look around, they see the Indians are nuclear, the Chinese are nuclear, Pakistan is nuclear … not to mention the Russians.”
When asked by Charlie Rose whether Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons also might compel Iran towards seeking nuclear weapons capability, Barak said “Yeah. Israel…Allegedly.”
Barak has caught flak in Israel for assigning a rationale to Iran’s as yet unproven weapons program. It seemed an accidental slip from typical U.S.-Israeli propaganda, that the Iranian government wants a nuclear weapon because they are irrational religious fanatics who want to destroy Israel and everyone living in it.
But the explanation somewhat reiterated what experts have been saying. Hans Blix, former head of the IAEA, said recently that Iran is operating out of a perception of threat, and must be reassured that they will not sustain a unilateral attack from the outside.
Blix and others explain that a change in U.S.-Israeli behavior towards Iran is the best way to ensure that Iran is not tempted to attain a nuclear deterrent. Ehud Barak’s accidental recognition of that seemed to prove that Israeli protestations over the Iranian threat are less than genuine.